I waited a week to write this, letting the experience settle some. Looking back, it wasn’t a terrible experience. Content was findable and as far as I could tell delivered without many issues, which is the main goal of any educational event. Networking felt like an after thought poorly executed, not at all a first class experience (perhaps a better word is opportunity, since it’s up to each attendee how much or little effort they put into networking). The sponsor expo made product information accessible, but it could have been so much more and I’d be surprised if the sponsors end up feeling like it was a success for them. For an event put together on the fly due to Covid and facing the comparisons to a long established physical event, it was…ok. Certainly not a fail. Steve Jones grades the event as a “C”, it’s worth reading his analysis.
I would guess that most of the people who paid the $699 for the Summit or the $999 for the week see the lower cost as a fair offset for stuff that didn’t translate well to a virtual event. I’d put myself in that group for this year. If they held the Summit in exactly the same way next year, would I attend again? I think I would, because I value the content and the week of largely focusing on wide ranging learning and a somewhat curated experience. Yet, I think I’d do so a bit grudgingly – it’s what I didn’t get that bothers me; hallways conversations, chats over coffee, dinner with friends I see once a year, the sense of taking a break from work and immersing in career, even time walking around just looking at what each sponsor was focusing on for the year.
Tough year, tough challenges, but the event did happen and that’s a good thing. I think both the event and the marketing have to be better in 2021. Lots of challenges there too, not least of which is figuring out if you can improve the way you use the platform (or get it improved) or take the bold leap of trying a different platform with all the risks and pain that comes with that.